Safety defects in electric christmas lights on sale across Europe

Dec. 15, 2010
Date Announced: 15 Dec 2010 Christmas Season: Christmas lights illuminate trees, gardens, windows and even building facades and streets. Light strings in the form of reindeers, Santa Claus and angels vie for our attention. But as dubious lighting products constantly appear on the market, many testing institutions as well as the European Commission advise increased caution. Already in December 2009, the European Committee warned that almost a third of Christmas lights on sale across Europe are in effect a fire hazard. According to the EU Consumer Report (, a significant proportion of Christmas light chains present serious safety defects and some even contain the danger of electric shock. The most frequently occurring safety defects are incorrect or missing safety instructions and too high heat production. Light strings produced in Asia often do not meet international safety regulations and may contain dangerous safety-related defects. “Due to thorough price competition, lighting manufacturers may use material of very low quality which can jeopardise the safety of the user, “ says the Finnish SGS Certification Director, Tom Törn. Before purchasing Christmas lights, consumers should check for the appropriate safety label indicating that the product has been tested and is safe for use.Several certification schemes such as the CE Mark, GS Mark, CEBEC Mark or SGS TÜV GS Mark are utilized to certify the safety of electrical products sold throughout Europe. Although all products sold within or imported into the EU must bear the CE Mark, it is only the manufacturer’s self declaration for safety. The GS Mark (Geprüfte Sicherheit = tested safety), ( however, reassures consumers that the product has undergone independent testing for safety by an authorized third party, such as SGS. The mark is recognized throughout Germany as well as other EU countries. In order to acquire the GS Mark, SGS Electrical & Electronics conducts an initial type approval test as well as recurring inspections of the manufacturing sites. Only if SGS is convinced of a product’s reliability will the manufacturer then receive Safety Certification, as proof of the achieved level of quality.For consumers, vigilance is essential, as well as following basic safety advice. Consumers should buy Christmas lights from reputable dealers where basic safety standards are assured and the products are certified for the intended use (indoor or outdoor). Furthermore, it is important to follow safety instructions, such as to never leave Christmas lights on when you are out of the house or in bed. If users suspect a problem with their lights, they should cease use and return the faulty item to the retailer. Finally, in order to be on the safe side, consumers should search e.g. for the GS Mark (, the Fimko Mark ( or CEBEC Mark ( on the packaging of any Christmas light products they buy.About SGS CTS SGS CTS is at the forefront of developing new testing matrices and protocols for testing consumer products. The range of services provided includes product evaluation, factory assessment, shipment control and technical assistance. Backed up by a global network of over 100 laboratories in 36 countries exclusively dedicated to testing and inspecting consumer goods, SGS CTS ( provides a single, consolidated source that can help clients reduce risk, improve efficiency and ensure compliance to contractual or regulatory requirements in both manufacturing and sourcing.About SGS - Electrical & ElectronicsSGS Electrical and Electronics (E&E) ( identifies the applicable regulations and standards for E&E products and target markets. SGS E&E can help reduce risk, improve efficiency and ensure compliance to contractual or regulatory requirements in all manufacturing, sourcing, distribution and retailing operations. Our locally available knowledge serves every consumer industry such as Household appliances, IT&T, Machinery, Medical Devices, LED, or Solar.The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognized as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. With 59,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,000 offices and laboratories around the world.

Contact details: SGS Consumer Testing Services SGS SA - Electrical & Electronics Silke Hilmer E&E Global Marketing Raboisen 28 20095 Hamburg t: +49 40 570 197 426 E-mail: [email protected] Website:

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